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The Athens City Council approved a contract on Monday that could lead to the commencement of work on the Cain Center renovation plan.

The deal with Berry and Clay Construction sets the guaranteed maximum price at $7,415,425.66 for construction of the City of Athens Civic and Aquatic Center.

"We did have the meetings with Berry and Clay on value engineering," Mayor Monte Montgomery said. "The items they brought forth were very good changes, very cost effective."

Montgomery said time is of the essence on the project in order to hold some of the sub-contractors to their bids, which are about a month old.

"Thirty days is the normal time limit for sub-contractors to hold their prices," Montgomery said.

Once the building is complete, the city still has to purchase items like furniture, weight lifting equipment and an audio systems.”

"At the end of this project, I'd like to see us get the total project and put it on the city web site so everyone can see what we spend," Councilman Aaron Smith said.

He would also like the debt service and other costs online.

Montgomery said the city has to get assurance from the Cain Foundation that they are still on board with their $2.5 million contribution to the project.

The council approved the contract with Berry and Clay with the stipulation that should the Cain Foundation back out on the $2.5 million donation, work on the project would stop until the city could adjust its plans.

The council also extended the City of Athens Disaster Declaration issued on March 19 due to the imminent threat to Public Health and Safety brought about by the coronavirus epidemic.

The mayor has the authority to issue a declaration, good for seven days. After that it must be approved by the city council.

The new declaration includes an added penalty clause as specified by the Texas Government Code. A violation could bring a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 180 days confinement.

In other action, the city elections, set for May 2 were moved to November, due to the public health crisis.

The master plan public meeting, set for March 31, has been canceled.

The meeting was conducted without public access to the Partnership Center. Residents were given the opportunity to view the proceedings live on the City of Athens Facebook page.

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